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  • Alcohol is not a hallucinogen; it’s a central nervous system (CNS) depressant. Hallucinogens and CNS depressants are separate classes of drugs that cause different effects.

    What’s The Difference Between Hallucinogens & Alcohol?

    Hallucinogens can cause hallucinations (seeing or hearing things that aren’t real) and alter your perception of reality. 

    Commonly abused hallucinogens include:

    • MDMA (ecstasy)
    • LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide, or acid)
    • psilocybin mushrooms (magic mushrooms)
    • ketamine
    • mescaline
    • peyote

    Effects Of Hallucinogenic Drugs

    If you use a classic hallucinogenic drug like MDMA or LSD, you may see brighter colors and have more intense sensual experiences. Dissociative hallucinogens, like ketamine, can make you feel disconnected from your body.

    Effects Of Alcohol 

    As a depressant, alcohol slows down your central nervous system—your heart rate, breathing, and response time. Alcohol targets GABA, a neurotransmitter that regulates brain activity, which is a different part of the brain than hallucinogens affect.

    Relaxation and lowered social inhibition are common effects of alcohol.

    Alcohol Poisoning Vs. A “Bad Trip”

    Heavy alcohol abuse can cause alcohol poisoning, which may be life-threatening. Symptoms include: 

    • confusion
    • vomiting
    • seizures
    • blacking out
    • low body temperature
    • difficulty breathing

    Taking too much of a hallucinogenic drug is more likely to lead to a “bad trip”—a scary or uncomfortable experience that you can’t escape.

    Are There Similarities Between Alcohol & Hallucinogens?

    Depending on your mood and the context in which you take them, hallucinogens can have a calming effect, like alcohol. 

    Alcohol and hallucinogens may have similar short-term side effects, such as:

    • confusion
    • mood swings
    • dizziness
    • nausea

    In high doses, hallucinogens and alcohol can cause memory loss, raised blood pressure, and a skewed perception of your abilities (such as feeling invincible).

    Is It Safe To Mix Alcohol & Hallucinogens?

    Some people mix MDMA and alcohol because MDMA is a stimulant as well as a hallucinogen. They think the two substances balance each other out by providing both energy and relaxation.

    But combining stimulants and depressant drugs can lead to overdose, as it’s difficult to tell when you’ve had too much of one or the other. The same goes for mixing other psychoactive drugs with alcohol.

    Can Alcohol Make You Hallucinate?

    Most people don’t experience hallucinogenic effects when they drink alcohol, even with excessive alcohol consumption. 

    But there is a rare condition called “alcoholic hallucinosis” (also known as alcohol-related psychosis). It appears as auditory hallucinations (hearing things). This condition can escalate to delusions, mood disturbances, and schizophrenia-like symptoms.

    Delirium tremens, a severe form of alcohol withdrawal, can also cause hallucinations. People who struggle with alcohol use disorder and suddenly stop drinking alcohol are most at risk. 

    Are You Struggling With Alcohol Or Drug Addiction?

    If you or a loved one have a substance use disorder, now is the time to ask for help. At Ark Behavioral Health, we have addiction treatment options for alcohol and drug abuse. Since each person’s experience with drug use is different, we’ll create a personalized treatment plan for you.

    To learn more, speak with one of our mental health specialists today for a no-cost, no-obligation consultation. We want to help you heal.

    Written by Ark Behavioral Health Editorial Team
    ©2024 Ark National Holdings, LLC. | All Rights Reserved.
    This page does not provide medical advice.

    Mayo Clinic - Alcohol poisoning
    National Center for Biotechnology Information - Alcoholic hallucinosis
    National Center for Biotechnology Information - Alcohol-Related Psychosis
    National Institute on Drug Abuse - What are the Effects of Common Dissociative Drugs on the Brain and Body?

    Medically Reviewed by
    Manish Mishra, MBBS
    on August 16, 2022
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